|For Immediate Release
May 24, 2011
Contact: Jessica Baker, 202-225-3951
Statement of Judiciary Committee Chairman Member Lamar Smith
Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement
Hearing on H.R. 1932, the Keep Our Communities Safe Act
Chairman Smith: In the 2001 decision of Zadvydas v. Davis, the Supreme Court ruled that immigrants admitted to the U.S. and then ordered removed could not be detained for more than six months if there was no reasonable likelihood of their being deported.
In the 2005 case Clark v. Martinez, the Supreme Court expanded its decision in Zadvydas to apply to immigrants who entered illegally.
In 2006 the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General reported that thousands of criminal immigrants with final orders of removal were being released into our streets because some countries frustrate the removal process.
The Inspector General found that nearly 134,000 immigrants with final orders of removal instead had been released from 2001 to 2004. The Inspector General also found that these illegal immigrants are unlikely to ever be repatriated if ordered removed because of the unwillingness of their country of origin to provide them the necessary travel documents.
In addition, thousands of criminal immigrants ordered removed have been released. This includes an immigrant who was implicated in a mob-related multiple homicide in Uzbekistan. It also includes an immigrant who shot a New York State Trooper after being released.
According to recent data provided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, nearly 4,000 dangerous criminal immigrants have been released each year since 2008.
In two tragic instances, criminal immigrants released because of Zadvydas have gone on to commit murder. Huang Chen was ordered removed for assaulting Qian Wu. China refused to grant Huang the necessary documents and he was released as a result of Zadvydas. He then committed another assault and was again ordered removed, but again China refused to issue travel documents. Huang was again released. He went on to violently murder Mr. Wu.
Abel Arango served time in prison for armed robbery. Since Cuba wouldn't take him back, he was released. He then went on to shoot Ft. Myers, Florida police officer Andrew Widman in the face. Officer Widman never had the opportunity to draw his weapon. The husband and father of three died at the scene. The Police Chief from Ft. Myers is with us today as a witness.
Just because a criminal immigrant cannot be returned to their home country does not mean they should be freed into our communities. Dangerous criminal immigrants need to be detained.
H.R. 1932, the Keep Our Communities Safe Act, provides a statutory basis for DHS to detain as long as necessary specified dangerous immigrants under orders of removal who cannot be removed. It authorizes DHS to detain non-removable immigrants beyond six months, but only if:
the alien will be removed in the reasonably foreseeable future;
the alien would be removed but for the alien's refusal to make all reasonable efforts to comply and cooperate with the Homeland Security's efforts to remove him;
the alien has a highly contagious disease;
release would have serious adverse foreign policy consequences;
release would threaten national security;
or release would threaten the saftey of the community and the alien either is an aggravated felon or has committed a crime of violence.
Such aliens may be detained for periods of six months at a time, and the period of detention may be renewed. The bill also provides for judicial review of detention decisions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
This legislation is desperately needed. There is no excuse for continuing to place American lives at risk.